1 Peter 5:2,3 Shepherd the flock of God that is among you… not for shameful gain… not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock.
When I was a sophomore in high school, I ran for class president as I thought it was a popularity contest and I desired the affirmation that winning would bring me. I was quite pleased with myself when I won, even though I ran unopposed. I liked the idea of being president, though I performed miserably at what was really my only function, being in charge of our homecoming float. The most pathetic float in our homecoming parade that year, made of a few streamers duct-taped to a borrowed golf cart, stood as evidence of my inadequacy at actually being president.
I was guilty of the kind of defect that Peter is warning of in this passage. He says that those who want to lead should not do it for selfish gain. Many of us are natural leaders, not in that we are gifted at leading others well, but rather in that it is natural for us to promote ourselves into positions that feed our pride. We want to be in charge because we are focused on and want to promote self. It affirms us and makes us feel good to be in charge. This kind of defect often gets us into leadership positions, but makes us poor leaders as we are focused on self and thus are not able to be the examples we are meant to be.
The challenge in leading is to make sure that I am living out my faith before I assume the role of leader. Does this mean that I have to live perfectly before I can start a bible study? We would have few shepherds if that were the case. It does mean however, that I should not be a leader if I am doing it just to be the boss. It does mean that if I presume to lead, I need to do it by example and not just by instruction. A good leader is not the one who knows how to boss everyone, but rather the one who knows how to live out faith as an example.
Speaking of my own struggles, failures and successes, seems to me to be more genuine than telling you how I think you should do it. The truth is, I do not have it all figured out. I still live in this flesh and I still fail in many ways. This life is a daily battle between my flesh life and my spirit life and I see it as necessary to be honest about that.
I have to continually ask myself why I am writing this blog. Am I doing it for self-promotion or am I doing it to honestly share my own experience for the good of others? I have to admit, that sometimes, I am still that sophomore in high school, trying to find affirmation in the confidence of those around me. As I write, I regularly have to turn my gaze from self to God. As in everything else in life, I need to do whatever it takes to abandon my selfish motives and focus on Christ.